New Boot Camp announced for Nov. 3rd SAT

Registration is now open for the next SAT Boot Camp, taking place Saturday, October 27th in the run-up to the November 3rd SAT sitting.

We’ll be meeting in downtown Olympia from 10:00 a.m. to Noon on the 27th.

The two-hour class is a quick but comprehensive overview of the tips and strategies I cover in my test prep class, as well as an opportunity to do some last minute Q&A and talk about ways to overcome test taking anxiety.

It’s a great review/refresher for past test prep students as well as an affordable opportunity for new students to come and get some takeaways before taking the big test.

The class is capped at 25 students, so early RSVPs are encouraged.

Click here for the registration form.

Registration now open for September SAT Boot Camp

Registration is now open for this fall’s SAT Boot Camp, taking place the Saturday before the big October setting of the SAT.

We’ll be meeting in downtown Olympia from 10:00 a.m. to Noon on Saturday, September 29th.

The two-hour class is a quick but comprehensive overview of the tips and strategies I cover in my test prep classes, as well as an opportunity to do some last minute Q&A and talk about ways to overcome test taking anxiety.

It’s a great review/refresher for past test prep students as well as an affordable opportunity for new students to come and get some takeaways before taking the big test.

The class is capped at 25 students, so early RSVPs are encouraged.

Click here for the registration form.

Top five 2018 timelines for rising seniors

The most frequently asked question I get right now in my college admissions work is from parents of high school juniors who are starting to wonder:

What college-related dates do we need to keep in mind?

Here are my top five:

  1. Right now (early April). Sign up for the SAT or ACT right now if it hasn’t been taken or attempting a higher score is desired.  Juniors have May, June, and August to take the SAT (and, in theory, October if necessary). The deadline for registering for the May SAT is April 6th and May 9th for the June ACT.  For the June SAT, the deadline is May 3rd. There is still time to sign up for a prep course for either May or June.
  2. July 1. Incoming seniors should start right now drafting the personal statement and essays that accompany the college applications. The 2019 essay prompts will generally be released by this point, so students can check the admissions website of the colleges they intend to apply to in order to see school-specific essay prompts. The reason to start essays this early is to both get them out of the way before the school year starts as well as to provide plenty of time for editing these very important components of the application.
  3. October 1. The 2019 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will now be available online, and should be completed. This is the main financial aid form, and colleges generally will not award any kind of aid without it. Most colleges award financial aid on a first-come, first-served basis, so having this form on file early is important.
  4. October 15 / November 15. These are the standard deadlines for many colleges’ early action/decision application, for those students who know ahead of time where they want to apply and hopefully attend. Some schools use October 15, and some schools use November 15. These deadlines sneak up quickly after the senior year starts, so it’s best to have as much application work done as early as possible. Incidentally, November 15 is the deadline for applying to the University of Washington, even though students don’t hear back until March.
  5. December 31. The regular admissions deadline for most schools is January 1. It’s a good idea to have the completed application for a January 1 school complete at least one full day before — or, ideally, well before — the first in case there are any issues with uploading or transmitting the application.

Of course, all of these application deadlines are dependent on the individual school, so students will want to check each school’s dates carefully and be aware of any looming deadlines.

What can be done to make all of this less stressful? An early start and plenty of time. I also work with students to prepare and update their master list to manage and track all of their college application deadlines.

March SAT boot camp announced

The next sitting of the SAT is coming on March 10th, 2018. Whether you’ve been prepping with me these last several weeks, or on your own, or with another service, I’m offering a two hour boot camp March 3rd from 10 to Noon in downtown Olympia to tie it all together.

The boot camp series covers a comprehensive overview of each section of the SAT, along with tips and tactics to reduce anxiety leading into the morning. I’ll also go over your one-week-left study plan to help you maximize your score.

Space is limited to the first 20 students. The cost of the boot camp is $40.

E-mail me to save a spot.

Two TED Talks to watch before this Saturday’s SAT

The next SAT sitting is this Saturday, December 2. For my students and others who are taking the test, I’d like to share these two relatively short TED talks that reinforce some lessons I teach in the prep course.

First, I try to reinforce the art of working backwards from your goal. This talk by chess grandmaster Maurice Ashley is a great reminder that working backwards is often a better and faster method that also helps you avoid silly mistakes. I think these skills are equally applicable to help you tackle those tricky questions on the SAT. For example, take the multiple choice answers, and working backwards, plug ’em in to the problem. Using process of elimination, find the one that works.

Second, I teach students that body language is just as important as one’s self-talk. In this presentation, psychologist Amy Cuddy makes the link between body language, power, confidence, and increased performance — on whatever you happen to be doing. I think it’s equally applicable to sitting down and talking the SAT. For example, avoiding the “nattering nabobs of negativism” – and avoiding letting anxiety and negative self-talk turn you into one too.

Remember: work backward from your ultimate goal to succeed, go into the test with the right posture and self-talk, and remember: don’t be afraid to fake it ’til you make it!


Insightful read on college admissions decisions that go wrong

It’s early November, and my high school seniors have just submitted, or are in the process of submitting, early decision applications to colleges – decisions that will start rolling in over the next month or so.

Some of those envelopes will be cause for joy, and inevitably, despite the diligence and and truly hard work that went into the application, some decisions will bring disappointment.

For those that do, I thought this recent post from an east-coast admissions counselor puts the matter in perspective nicely.

After describing the fact that some schools spend as little as four minutes per application, making admit or deny decisions within seconds, the author reinforces that the issue often isn’t whether the student has done enough to get into the school, but whether the school’s admissions committee has done enough to understand the student. The sheer workload of many admissions committee members dictates that they often don’t get a chance to know as much as we’d like about the student:

Making sense of admissions decisions is nearly impossible. Remember, we don’t need to make sense of a decision that was made in seconds (yes, seconds). Even if we did, it still wouldn’t give justice to a student’s intellect, humanity, and potential. Instead, we need to encourage our kids to understand that they have done enough. When they truly believe this, the right college will brilliantly appear before their eyes and the rest is history.

Indeed, the right way to process any sting of disappointment that comes with a college admissions decision is that everything will be okay. Just because one school didn’t have the chance to see how remarkable the student is, other schools will.

It always works out.

Read the whole thing here.

Woohoo for WUE

Is your student interested in attending an out of state public school, but you can’t imagine paying the out of state tuition rates, which can rival the tens of thousands of dollars per year charged by private colleges?

You might not have to.

One of the best kept secrets in college admissions in our region is the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE, or woo-wee).

One of my favorite things is helping students who want to attend college out of state achieve that dream while paying close to in-state tuition prices. WUE is the easiest way to make that happen.

With WUE, students from Washington State can request a reduced tuition rate of 1.5x, or 150%, of the resident tuition in a participating college (and for an eligible major) outside of our state.

There are over 150 two- and four-year institutions in the exchange. Schools like the University of Arizona, University of Montana, Boise State University, Portland State University, University of Nevada Las Vegas, University of Wyoming, and dozens more from Alaska to the Dakotas. See all the participating schools here.

The most important thing to keep in mind with WUE is that the number of out-of-state awards vary by school each year, and most schools cap the number of awards. So it is important to apply for admission and the WUE discount early in the season.

Let me know if you’re interested in learning more about WUE admissions, and in the meantime check out all the information on their homepage here.

Top 5 Things for Seniors to do right now for college admissions

So, senior year has just started. What are the top five things seniors (and parents) ought to start working on right now to take some stress out of the college application process?

1. Begin filling out the Common App! The Common Application is an undergraduate college admission application that students may use to apply to any of the 731 member colleges and universities. Most private colleges and universities use the Common App. Depending on how many schools you are applying to, it will take about an hour to fill out the online form. You can save your progress and schools for later.  Start the Common App here.

2. Get ready to fill out the FAFSA! The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the form that families fill out to apply for federal grants, loans, and work-study funds for college students. It is administered by the U.S. Department of Education, which provides more than $150 billion in student aid each year. The FAFSA opens for submission October 1, 2017. Filling out the FAFSA will require parents to assemble their most recent federal income tax returns, W-2s and other records of money earned, potentially bank and investment account information, and records of any untaxed income.  Access the FAFSA electronic portal here.

3. Begin writing your essays and personal statement! Your college application essay gives you a chance to show admissions officers who you really are beyond grades and test scores. Ideally, students begin writing these essays in the summer. These are not your typical essays — they take some forethought, introspection, and usually multiple drafts. They are short – 650 words or less – and function best when they showcase who you are, your personality, and what matters most to you. See this link for some further application essay tips.

4. Show Demonstrated Interest! Have you visited a college yet to see if you’d like to apply or attend there? Did you know that schools keep track of who comes to visit? Many schools are now keeping track of official tours/visits as a sign of demonstrated interest in the college, so be sure to make it official and sign in. Other forms of demonstrated interest include e-mailing professors to express interest in their research, talking to former and current students, or visiting events with regional admissions officers. These things help  you put specifics about the school in your essay, which can help boost admission chances.

5. Deadlines! Finally, don’t lose sight of all the deadlines that pile up this time of year. Find all your application and related deadlines, put them on your calendar, work backwards from them, and do not miss them. Colleges will not accept late applications unless there is a remarkable circumstance. Many schools, furthermore, have early deadlines — as soon as mid-October. The University of Washington, for example, requires applications by November 15. Every year, students and parents miss it.

September SAT Boot Camp Announced

In run-up to the October 7th sitting of the SAT, I’ll be offering a two hour SAT Boot Camp on Saturday morning, September 23rd from 10:00 a.m. to 12 Noon in downtown Olympia.

The bootcamps provide a quick review of the full test prep session as well as last-minute test-taking strategies, and a Q&A of all the thorny issues on students minds.

Cost is $40 per student. It is open to my test prep students as well as anyone else sitting for the SAT, so please feel free to bring a friend. But it’s limited to the first 20 students to keep things focused on students’ top concerns.

More information right here.

SAT/ACT Dates & Study Plans for Sophomores and Juniors

calendarSophomore Year: Prep Time

Sophomore year is when you can start practicing for the SAT or ACT. I recommend taking experimental practice tests and planning out your studying and testing schedules. The sophomore year is a great year to figure out your baseline SAT or ACT score.  I can help you plan how to prepare for standardized testing and help create the best chance of success when you take the test junior year.

Junior Year: The Time is NOW!

Junior year is when test taking gets real. It’s important to manage your prep and testing schedule wisely, especially if you are involved in extracurricular activities that begin in the Spring!  I recommend signing up for the February ACT or March SAT and sign up for a prep class. My March SAT Prep classes will begin at the end of January and beginning of February.  Give yourself enough planning time to map out which test dates work best for your schedule!

Looking ahead to Senior Year

After you’ve taken your first test, evaluated your studying habits, and know how much you want to improve before you send in college apps, you’re ready to create a study plan based on this information.  Many will take the SAT or ACT multiple times during their junior spring.  Though you still have more chances to take the tests during senior fall, you should try as hard as you can to improve each time. Be careful not to depend too much on senior year testing opportunities. Ideally, you will have already reached your goals before then so you can avoid stressing out over simultaneous deadlines for college applications and standardized testing. If you are applying for Early Action or Early Decision, you should do your best to get all your tests out of the way before senior year rolls around.